October 21, 2018

[HR] 10 Best Practices to Prepare Your Business for Cannabis Legalization

October 21, 2018

As of October 17th, 2018, Cannabis is legal in Canada – both medicinally and recreationally. Is your business ready? Here are 10 best practices to prepare your business for cannabis legalization:POLICY DEVELOPMENT

  • Prepare a written Drug and Alcohol Policy. If the business already has a policy in place, no need to create a net new policy for cannabis – modify the existing one.
  • The Drug and Alcohol Policy should:
  • Prohibit a worker from working under the influence of illegal drugs, legal drugs (i.e., cannabis), alcohol and medication.
  • Address the use and possession of drugs and alcohol in the workplace.
  • Require the disclosure of medication that may impair a worker’s ability to appropriately and safely perform work.
  • Confirm accommodation may be provided where a worker has a substance use dependency or is required to use or possess an intoxicant in the workplace for medical reasons.
  • Advise that it may be necessary to obtain additional medical information to facilitate accommodation.
  • If testing is contemplated for a safety sensitive position, set out when and how testing will occur (e.g., reasonable cause, post-incident or return to work), and what measures will be taken to protect privacy.
  • Address discipline for a violation of the Drug and Alcohol Policy.


  • If the business Drug and Alcohol Policy contemplates and mentions testing – based on requirement to meet Health and Safety requirements and other criteria, it is important to identify a testing provider and confirm:
  • The steps the provider would like followed to implement testing.
  • The substances that will be tested.
  • What constitutes a “positive” test with respect each substance and how this will be determined (i.e., that the thresholds are supported by medical evidence).
  • How test results will be provided to the employer and the estimated timelines.


  • Train supervisors on the Drug and Alcohol Policy including the obligation to report suspected impairment and how to address the worker. Consider providing additional training on recognizing signs of impairment (internally or through a third-party provider).
  • Inform workers about the Drug and Alcohol Policy including the obligation to report and to whom.
  • Have each worker sign an Acknowledgment and Consent to comply with the Drug and Alcohol Policy (and a Consent to testing, if applicable).


  • Ensure that all employees are trained on the Drug and Alcohol Policy and signs the Acknowledgment and Consent.
  • If a worker requests accommodation under the Drug and Alcohol Policy, determine whether accommodation is for a substance use dependency (which would not require continued use of the drug and/or alcohol) or a disability for which the drug is being used medically (e.g., medical cannabis). Engage in the appropriate accommodation process based on the underlying medical information.
  • Before imposing discipline for a violation of the Drug and Alcohol Policy, ensure any human rights and/or accommodation issue has been considered.
  • Revise the Drug and Alcohol Policy as necessary based on legislative changes, case law developments and the needs of the workplace.

For more information and assistance on creating or amending applicable polcies for your business, contact Beneplan.Credit: With information input and guidance from industry sources and our legal experts.


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